She Deserve a Google Doodle

Audrey Hepburn Google Doodle from May 4, 2014

Audrey Hepburn Google Doodle from May 4, 2014

Today’s Google Doodle celebrates Audrey Hepburn, a worthy choice to be sure.  She was one of the most respective actresses of her time, ranked by the American Film Institute as the third greatest female screen legend in the history of American cinema, she is one of the few people to have won an Grammy, Tony, Emmy, Oscar, BAFTA, and numerous other accolades for her work as an actress.

She was also a fashion icon, but she may be most worthy of honor for her work as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.  She first did work for UNICEF in the 1950s, but it wasn’t until 1988 that she began work in an official capacity.  She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1992, only a year before she died of cancer at the age of only 45.

She’s a worthy subject of honor, to be sure, but I’m curious what criteria Google chooses.  Around this time two years ago the Pearl S. Buck Birthplace launched an effort to ask Google to dedicate a Doodle to Pearl S. Buck.
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Damascus in the 19th Century-Images

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Bayt Shama’ya Afandi, Damascus, Syria

I work on some fascinating projects at the AKDC@MIT.  One that we’ve just started on, and will be uploading in small increments over an extended period is a a new Special Collection in Archnet, the Michel Ecochard Archive.  A  collection of images of 19th-century Damascus is the first installment to be made available.  I’m so intrigued by the images, I wanted to tell you about them here, and about the larger collection you will eventually see more of.

French architect and urban planner Michel Ecochard, 1905-1985, spent much of his career working in the Muslim world, starting in Damascus following his graduation from École des Beaux-Arts in Paris in 1929, then Beirut from 1931 to 1944, Rabat from 1946 to 1952 and finally Paris from 1953 to 1983.  Continue reading

Whrrling around the deCordova Sculpture Garden

Spent a couple of hours this this afternoon at the deCordova Museum in the Sculpture Garden. It’s awfully interesting that place.

The deCordova Sculpture Park encompasses 35 acres of beautiful rolling woodlands and lawns, and is the largest park of its kind in New England. The Sculpture Park is open to the public every day of the year from dawn ’til dusk, and contains approximately 75 artworks at any given time.

Here’s a few images from the day.

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Culture Jamming Anti-Ads

These are spoof ads from Adbusters Magazine,

a not-for-profit, reader-supported, 120,000-circulation magazine concerned about the erosion of our physical and cultural environments by commercial forces.

I think they are amazing. Funny, yet tragic. They point out the absurdity of advertising that promises to fulfill all our desires and yet only creates and enlarges desires that can never be filled.
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Google Doodles: Umm Kulthum, Jan Amos Komensky and Others You Never Saw.

Yesterday was the birthday of the great Egyptian singer Umm Kulthum, at least as far as records in her home province indicate.  The 30th of December is also cited sometimes, but Google took notice yesterday and marked the occasion with a Google Doodle on the Egyptian version of their site.  Given her significance in Egyptian culture, indeed Arab culture as a whole, the tribute is appropriate.  Indeed, she probably ranks among the best known and most loved singers the world has ever know.

I dare say, however, that few in America that are not of Arab descent have ever heard of Umm Kulthum.  I certainly hadn’t until I was introduced to her by Middle Eastern television. To me that begs a question.  Google Doodles are a learning opportunity, as the are accompanied by links to whatever the image represents.  Of course Google wins points my honoring this great diva in Egypt and it also does its part in keeping her memory alive for a younger generation that, like young people all over the world, is becoming used to shorter pop songs, accompanied by slick video images.

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Here we go again!

A new attack ad targeting three Democratic senators and one Republican criticizes “hidden taxes on … pensions and retirement accounts” in the financial regulation legislation being considered by Congress, and urges the senators to “vote against this phony financial reform.”

The ad gives a false impression. The Senate bill doesn’t contain the tax mentioned in the ad.

(It) is the work of a less-than-transparent group calling itself “Stop Too Big To Fail,” which says its $1.6 million ad buy is targeting senators in Nevada, Virginia and Missouri (Sens. Harry Reid, Mark Warner, Claire McCaskill and Kit Bond).

So begins a April 23, 2010 posting from Fact Check.org…

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Qantara: Mediterranean Heritage

I  just wanted to take a moment to point out this site, which I just discovered tonight.  It is a fantastic pedagogical resource, interactive and rich in media.  The interactive maps are particularly particularly fun, but there is all kinds of rich media.

The Qantara project is part of the Euromed Heritage programme, which hopes to contribute to mutual understanding and dialogue between Mediterranean cultures by highlighting their cultural heritage. It aims to encourage intercultural dialogue by supporting the preservation and promotion of the shared historical and cultural heritage of the Euromed region, through human, scientific and technological exchanges…

The Qantara Project is a reflection of the Institut du Monde Arabe in its pursuit of openness and peace, in its modern and multimedia format that targets specialists and non-specialists alike, and in terms of its organisation, which unites several partner countries – Algeria, France, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia, and Spain – as well as a guest country, Egypt. Qantara’s goal is to build or rather consolidate the bridge between the North and South, and the East and West of the Mediterranean.

Why People Pirate Music

Bonjour CD

Bonjour CD

I regularly record Acousticfrom TV5 Monde on my DVR, and I just finished watching this week’s program with Rachid Taha. I’m a big fan of Taha and on the episode he sang some songs from a new album called Bonjour. They weren’t the best songs he ever recorded, but I liked them and I want the CD. I have all Taha’s records, and I want this one, too.

So I set out looking for it. The first place I looked was iTunes. I’m always ambivalent about albums on iTunes, though I buy most of my music there. I like the instant gratification. I can also find stuff that’s hard to find in stores. As record stores disappear, its not easy to find anything but the biggest hits in retailers like BestBuy, Barnes&Noble or Borders. On the other hand, I like having all that information the downloads don’t provide but that usually comes in a CD: names of composers and lyricists, producers and members of the band, information about where and when something was recorded, anecdotes from the sessions, photographs and all that stuff you usually find in the liner notes that accompany a CD. But it wasn’t in iTunes, anyway. Continue reading